OCC grants conditional bank charter to another U.S. digital asset-focused company

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) granted another crypto-focused firm conditional approval to operate as a national bank.

Protego will join Anchorage as a banking editor with approval from the federal government, according to a new announcement from the U.S. banking regulator.

Protego aims to serve institutional clients interested in digital assets. The Seattle-based firm plans on being a "vertically integrated and fully regulated bank built on blockchain." Now, as a nationally chartered trust bank, it can hold, trade, lend and issue digital assets to clients. These will be its four primary services, according to the bank.

However, Protego is still in the organizational phase of development, according to the OCC's announcement. It will have 18 months to meet the terms of its conditional approval. It will be able to convert to a national trust bank when it begins to operate. Currently, it's a Washington State-chartered trust company.

This conditional approval comes after the era of Brian Brooks' leadership. Brooks was Coinbase's head legal counsel before joining the OCC under the Trump Administration. During his time at the head of the agency, Brooks made considerable strides on the digital asset policy front, including clarifying that federally chartered banks can hold custody of digital assets and granting the first conditional banking license to a crypto company. Anchorage nabbed the first conditional license in mid-January.

Blake Paulson, a career bank examiner, took over as Acting Comptroller just days after the Anchorage approval. Paulson will serve until a Senate-approved nominee takes office.